I don't think Joe Hasselvander needs an introduction. The time he spent with Death Row/Pentagram is well-known among all Doom Metal fans, but he also was a long-term member in Raven and played together with countless bands like Blue Cheer, Cathedral, Phantom Lord, Black Manta and many more. All that are excellent references, especially because he's a musician who is able to coin the sound of a band. During the last 25 years he also recorded a couple of solo records, that are tough to find today. Thanks to Rock Saviour Records for the re-release of his two first solo albums in 2007, so that everyone now can get a hold of them.
'Lady-Killer' was originally released in 1985 on Dutch East India Records where Joe Hasselvander is responsible for vocals and all instruments with the exception of lead guitar, played by Jack Starr. Unfortunately the production isn't the best, so that the six songs sound more like a rough demo, but nevertheless Joe Hasselvander wrote some real catchy songs which remind me to early KISS, Alice Cooper and Death Row/Pentagram (of, course!). The main focus here is definitely more on typical US-hardrock, while Joe Hasselvander's mean vocals avoid any kind of sleazyness. Only 'Undertaker and his Pals' sounds as if he had written that track for Death Row/Pentagram, because it's so damn heavy and sinister. Great!
'Road Kill' has been recorded in 1986 but it took 14 years until that record was released thru Bad Posture Records. His second album is in the same vein as its predecessor, but this time the production is much better as well as the included eight songs. Once again Joe is playing all instruments while Jay Smith is on lead guitar. Some of the songs are simply awesome like 'Under the Gun' with its infectious chorus. Based on a heavy pounding drum beat the song developes an intensity with each second, and mostly I have to listen to it more than only once. 'Metal Eyes' is a strong mid-paced headbanger and even here Jay Smith shows that he was a very talented guitarist, who knows when its time to integrate a melodious solo. Another outstanding tune is 'School for the Deaf', one of the fastest and doom-soaked tracks here with additional double bass. Joe Hasselvander is no highly gifted vocalist, but what he does fits absolutely to the songs.
The biggest surprises unveil the last two songs 'Rotten to the Core' and 'Chased by Your Demons', because one can hear no one else than Victor Griffin on all guitars and vocals. I would swear that it's impossible to figure that out, because of his high-pitched vocals. This aren't the best songs here, even so it's interesting to hear Victor in such an uncommonly vocal style. This re-release is rounded off with an extensive booklet featuring all lyrics, rare photos, and informative liner notes written by Joe Hasselvander. At least you can listen to two bonus cuts. The first one is from Overlord, recorded in 1979 with Joe Hasselvander on drums and a fantastic live recording from Death Row's 'The Ghoul' which has been taken from a show in Springfield, Virginia in 1982. All in all this is an affectionately unclasped CD, that is essential for every fan of Joe Hasselvander and Death Row/Pentagram. Top-notch!